FREEPORT, Grand Bahama -- Erika Hanna Stoecker, nee Stenner, affectionately known as "Mutti" (Mommy) is turning 100 on April 15th! And to celebrate her mother's grand birthday in style Erika Gates and Garden of the Groves team will be holding a unique 5K fun/run walk on Saturday, April 14th on the new ATV trail.
There is some uneven terrain, making the course difficulty "medium." You likely won't set a personal best speed record but you will have a lot of fun on this course. All proceeds from this joyous event will go to the Grand Bahama Home for the Aged.
Pre-register all this week from 9am-5pm at the Garden of the Groves or on Friday from 9am-9pm at the Garden Cafe. Race begins Saturday morning at 7:30am. Entrance fee: children $5 and adults $10. Awards for all categories. Call 374-7778 or 9 for more information.
Born in 1912 in the small, 600 year old town of Lennep, in central Germany, the same day and time the Titanic sink. Erika is the daughter of Johannes and Helene Stenner. She was the last of three daughters; her two older sisters, Margret and Leni, both now deceased, were in their nineties when they died.
Like all people born at that time the two wars were to have a major impact on her life. Due to the depression and economic downturn in Germany she had to leave school at an early age and work in the family’s cardboard container manufacturing business.
She loved to play tennis and it was at the Lennep Tennis Club where she met her future husband, Erich Stoecker. Erich was a sports enthusiast as well as an accomplished gymnast. He was in the process of building up a food wholesale business after having learnt the trade in his father’s company.
Erich and Erika were married on August 31st in 1933 and their first son, Hans-Joachim, was born in 1935. Manfred followed in 1937 and Erika in 1942. The young family was soon broken apart when Erich was called into service at the start of World War II. Fortunately for him he was captured in the first few weeks of the war by the British army at Dunkirk and spent most of the war in a prison camp in Canada.
In the later stages of WWII the occupying forces took over the family home and Erika was able to secure a job as a translator for the British Control Commission of Germany.
Her husband was finally released in 1947 but came home to a different Germany. Life and career had to start all over again. The comforts they enjoyed before the war had vanished but Erika made the family home a place of refuge and tranquility.
During the years following the war Erika raised the children while her husband rebuilt the business. In 1955 they lost their eldest son Hans-Joachim to leukemia at the age of 20. In the year before her son died, Erika travelled some distance every day to be by his side in the city where he received treatment. Again, when Manfred’s wife, Rosemary, battled cancer before she eventually died, Erika was there to help.
Erich sold his business and retired in the mid-70s and he and Erika spent several months each year with daughter Erika who had made the Bahamas her home since 1970.
Erich passed away shortly after they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and for a while Erika spent her time between her son Manfred's home in Germany and her daughter's in the Bahamas. Fifteen years ago she began to reside permanently in Freeport and became involved with the community in Grand Bahama. She enjoyed hosting German style "Kaffeeklatsches" and was famous for her German cakes and Apfelstrudels. She loved travelling with her daughter and son-in-law Ed and they made many trips and cruises together.
Photo 1: Erika Stoecker, affectionately known as 'Mutti' is turning 100 on April 15th!
Photo 2: Mother and daughter team - Erika Gates of Garden of the Groves with her mother 'Mutti' (Mommy). (Photo by Derek Carroll)
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